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Tide, Ducks still 1-2 in polls

By Ralph D. Russo

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Nov. 4 2012 9:58 p.m. MST

Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon (4) scores the winning touchdown past LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo (49) in the second half of their NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Alabama won 21-17. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Associated Press

The toughest tests of the season were passed, and Alabama and Oregon are still perfect.

The Crimson Tide's aura of invincibility was the only thing lost.

A thrilling Saturday produced some great games but no upsets and few changes among the highest ranked teams in The Associated Press Top 25 released Sunday.

Those fortunate enough to be able to keep track of multiple games got the chance to compare and contrast the contenders, and maybe a sense about how they would stack up against each other.

Alabama, which scored late to beat LSU 21-17, is No. 1 for the 10th straight week in the AP poll. Oregon beat Southern California 62-51 and is No. 2 for the seventh consecutive week.

Kansas State remains at No. 3 after beating Oklahoma State 44-30, and Notre Dame stays at No. 4 after rallying to beat Pittsburgh 29-26 in triple overtime.

The BCS standings were due out later Sunday, and Oregon was expected to take advantage of Notre Dame's struggles by passing the Fighting Irish and moving into third place, behind Alabama and Kansas State.

Saturday's showdowns in the Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 were played at the same time and for a while presented an almost comical contrast of styles.

While the Ducks and Trojans were trading scores on almost every possession, the Tide and Tigers were banging heads and plodding along.

By halftime, Oregon led USC 34-24 in a game that was clearly far from being decided. SEC fans scoffed at the lack of defense.

Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge, La., Alabama held a 14-3 lead at half that had to seem insurmountable to even LSU fans. The Tigers had run their string of touchdown-less quarters against the Tide to 10. Fans tired of SEC superiority scoffed at the lack of offense.

After the break in Los Angeles, the Ducks and Trojans just kept on rolling, but USC never did get closer than three. No surprise there.

The unexpected came in Death Valley, where LSU found its offense and picked apart an Alabama defense that has looked close to invincible this season.

The Tigers put together two touchdown drives to take the lead before AJ McCarron and the Tide rallied with their only sustained drive of the second half.

"We didn't play our best game," coach Nick Saban said. "But I told our guys I have never been prouder of a team."

So what did we learn?

The Crimson Tide might not be as far away from the rest of the field as many have suspected. Its defense, thought to be impenetrable, allowed Zach Mettenberger and the LSU offense to play their best game of the season.

Mettenberger had completed 46 percent of his passes and thrown two touchdowns in four previous SEC games. He went 24 for 35 for 296 yards and two touchdowns Saturday.

Logic would dictate that if Mettenberger and LSU could find success against the Tide, maybe Oregon (or Kansas State or Notre Dame) would be able to as well. Maybe?

Alabama-Oregon seems to be the matchup most fans without a team in the hunt want to see. For what it's worth, the Ducks gained ground on the Tide in the eyes of the oddsmakers on Saturday.

A hypothetical Alabama-Oregon BCS title game now has the Tide favored by four, according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com. It had been six.

GOING UP: UCLA moved up eight spots to No. 17 in the latest rankings after a 66-10 victory against Arizona.

The Bruins (7-2) have already exceeded expectations in coach Jim Mora's first season, and the best could be yet to come for a program that usually plays little brother to USC in the crosstown football rivalry.

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